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Looking for fun things to do on your birthday that don’t cost an arm and a leg? Get a few new surprises to spring on the birthday boy or girl this year!

When he woke up, the first thing he did was (of course) come down the steps.

Except that today, there were streamers blocking his exit into the living room.

What could he do…except bust through those paper ropes like the KoolAid Man going through a wall.

Ooooo yeah!

You can bet he felt special from the moment he woke up.  After all, it’s his birthday.

He only gets one per year.  And every little moment you give him throughout the day fills your heart with joy, at least as much as it does his.

Making a birthday feel special doesn’t take a ton of money.

And here’s a hint…it doesn’t have to be Pinterest perfect either.

Here are some super fun things to do for a birthday…they are gonna love it!

Here’s Our List of Fun Things To Do For a Birthday

These fun birthday ideas are great for kids or anyone who wants their day to be special. As a bonus, these fun birthday traditions make memories for free in super cheap ways!

1. Reminisce

Everyone loves to hear (positive!) stories about themselves!

One of our favorite things to do is remember stories of past birthdays, especially the day our child was born.

Adults might remember fun times they had together.  Some of our favorite stories begin with “Remember that one time…” (But you can barely get it out because you’re already laughing.)

The Mystery Machine birthday cake

2.  Let Them Choose the Food

This family we know lets the kids eat whatever they want for their birthday dinner.

(Ok, they probably have a limit…I mean, lobster with a side of cavier ain’t happening in this house!)

One kid picked salami rolls, ice cream, potato chips, and cereal.  It’s one day a year…why not live it up?

In our family, the special guy or gal can choose their breakfast (if there’s time for that) and dinner.  They also get to choose their birthday dessert.

That’s usually a favorite flavor of cake with the coolest cartoon character of the moment.

But one of our boys likes to mix it up.  He’s had cherry pie, blackberry cobbler, and even banana splits.

You can put a candle into any of those things!

3.  Book > Card

Birthday cards can be special and all, but I’m not excited about spending $4 on a card they’ll throw away.

I’d rather spend that money on a book they can enjoy for a long time!  My kids like reading the same good books over and over again, so books are always worth it.

My favorite places to get a great deal are Goodwill and Amazon.

But lately, my favorite place to shop for books is Thriftbooks.  Their prices almost always beat Amazon, and it’s not hard to qualify for free shipping. Plus they have a loyalty program that can’t be beat!

4.  King/Queen For the Day

How much fun would it be to actually deck the birthday boy or girl out in royal gear?  How about this birthday crown from Etsy!  

Remember to save it just for birthdays to make it more special.

5.  Streamers

Seriously, go crazy.

Everyone loves to bust through them.  You can hang them in doors, cover their dining room chair, wrap the car…

The possibilities are endless!

6.  Photo Book

They say you don’t have as many pictures of your last kid as you do your first.  But in today’s world where we always carry a camera, that just isn’t true anymore!

Know what is rare?

An actual printed picture.  

My fifth born has tons of photos of himself… but almost none are pictures he can hold in his hand.

I made a special photo book of his first year of life, and he pulls it out all the time!

7.  The Kiss

If you liked Everybody Loves Raymond, you probably remember The Birth Kiss.  Marie would find Raymond at exactly the minute he was born and she’d give him a kiss.


(You could probably find a less embarrassing way to mark the birth moment.  Your call.)

8.  Collect Your Free Stuff

Lots of stores and restaurants want to give you free stuff for your birthday.  So go collect it!  Here’s a list of 100 places that offer birthday freebies.

(If you’re stuck at home, you should still sign up for the lists! I bet some of these places will honor them later.)

9.  Pancake Numbers

Make pancakes for breakfast.  You can add favorite fillers like chocolate chips, birthday sprinkles, or fruit.

Celebrating an 8th birthday?  Why not shape your pancakes into a number 8?

10.  Invite Friends

Spend the day with a good friend.

Making time for people often means more than spending money.

11.  Make Treats

Make some yummy treats.  Eat the whole pan guilt free…or share them with your family and friends, classmates, or coworkers.

Grab a carton of your favorite ice cream and a spoon.  Today, there’s no sharing.

12.  Special Plate

As a gift for their kindergarten “graduation” (which has been a “thing” in our neck of the woods for decades), we take them to a ceramics shop and paint a special plate.

You could do this as a fun birthday gift!

Then use that plate on special days.  (Like birthdays!)

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13.  Do Their Chores

Everyone appreciates not having to do mundane chores.  It’s an even bigger treat if your love language is “acts of service”.

Some people might consider this one of their favorite gifts!

(Ok, it’s me.  That would be my favorite gift.  But I’m not the only one!)


14.  Make an Announcement

Does the birthday boy or girl crave attention?  They’ll love the staff at a restaurant singing to them.

Or you could have the principal or boss make an announcement that it’s a special birthday at school or work.

These days, a great shout out is to use social media to tell the world how much this special person means to you.

15.  Turn Gift Time Into a Scavenger Hunt

Yeah, you could just hand them their gifts.  Or you could make the anticipation last a little longer!

Wrap up the first clue in a box and send them on a hunt through the house to find their gift.

Check out this list of cool birthday presents that won’t add to your clutter!

16.  Ask A Question

Each year when you take a video of the birthday celebrant, ask him or her a question.  I ask my kids what they want to be when they grow up.

Then watch old videos and see how it changes over the years.

I ask my husband, too, because we aren’t sure the official age for being a grown up.  😉

17.  Go for a Drive

Visit those special places that mean the most to you.  Bonus points for creating a scavenger hunt of memories!

(You may be able to visit outdoor places…and if not, at least a nice drive will get you out of the house for a while.)

These birthday ideas are perfect for kids or for your best friend. Surprise a girlfriend or teen with these special celebrations for big birthdays.These fun things to do for a birthday don’t cost much, but they sure make the day special!

If you thought it was fun to see their best KoolAid Man impression…

…just imagine the joy on their face by the time they end this day filled with celebration!

Is your birthday buddy tough to buy for?  Give them one of these cool things under 10 dollars!35 Cool Things Under 10 Dollars: Makes a Great (Cheap!) Gift

What are your favorite birthday traditions?

Need ideas to celebrate a birthday when you're stuck at home? A quarantine or self isolation birthday can still be fun. Get fun ways to celebrate your birthday or your child's birthday at home.

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These fun birthday ideas are perfect for teens, kids, adults...anyone who loves to celebrate their special day without spending a lot of money.